Some games resonate so strongly with an audience that a developer will continuously seek out ways to appease the masses that continuously demand more. Often times this demand is met with simple cash-grabs thrown out in order to turn a quick buck, but every so often a company will do right by a title's fan base and deliver on the feedback it has received – all the while expanding on the original in a meaningful way. Ultra Street Fighter 2: The Final Challengers is not the latter.
To clarify, the many different iterations of Street Fighter 2 have slowly helped push the title as one of the greatest fighting games ever released, and Ultra Street Fighter 2: The Final Challengers is no exception. At this point a strong case could be made for awarding any one of the many renditions with that highly sought-after monicker of "G.O.A.T.", but this same game has been revisited and tweaked so many times since its debut in 1991 that it now only slightly resembles the arcade classic. That’s not a bad thing, but the fact that Capcom is charging $39.99 USD for a slightly modified version of a 26-year-old title on Nintendo Switch is a little outrageous.
Capcom has tried to justify this price tag through a handful of new features, with the most important to gamers being the inclusion of new characters Evil Ryu and Violent Ken. They're an odd pairing of newcomers that do little to alter the final product, but veterans of the series will appreciate the opportunity to try out the new fighters. Truth be told, they don't feel all that new. Evil Ryu is more of a combination of the face of the franchise (sans an "Evil" forename) and Akuma, which doesn't feel all that special. Meanwhile, Violent Ken is a modified (and allegedly brainwashed) version of his happier counterpart that features faster attacks.
Neither fighter feels all that spectacular or nouveau in terms of how they play, but with a roster consisting of only 19 characters they are sure to be appreciated by longstanding players. These brawlers and arenas are also repping the higher-res skins that first made their appearance in Super Street Fighter 2 Turbo HD Remix back in 2008, which can be seen as a positive or negative to some. Fortunately, Capcom had the sense to give players the option to jump between the divisive, cartoony look and the original visuals, so users can decide which aesthetic they find more appealing.
Not quite finished there, the development team has thrown in one bonus for Switch owners in the form of a first-person mode titled "Way of the Hado". This is a gimmicky affair that ultimately fails to justify the price of admission, nor is it even remotely worth pegging as a selling point for Ultra Street Fighter 2: The Final Challengers, as it can be played through once before being frisbee'd off into the sunset like the tacked-on morsel it was always intended to be.
Meanwhile, Buddy Battle gives players another way to play with their friends. Allowing two gamers to team up against a single A.I. opponent, users share a single health bar as they take on others. This is a great addition for anyone that's tired of simply squaring off with players, and allows newcomers to come to terms with the controls alongside their friends rather than through countless losses at the hands of someone more familiar with Street Fighter. In that light, it's quite entertaining, and players looking to enjoy their time with The Final Challengers can further adjust their experience by altering the colors of beloved brawlers.
The color-altering option is simply referred to as "Color Editor" and it's a rather standard feature in fighting titles today. Players can select from any member of the roster and give them a new coat of paint to help distinguish some of their favorites while using them online. There are only three palettes that can be swapped here, which limits the amount of customization actually available, but it's enough to make Zangief resemble the Incredible Hulk for those that are longing to add a little Marvel to this Capcom fighter.
Online play is also a big part of this entry, as fans can hop on and challenge anyone in the world on their Nintendo Switch. Truth be told, the online itself works quite well, with little to no lag experienced while playing on my lacklustre Internet. It's easy to see how fans of the game could surrender hours that are dedicated to levelling up their rank and mastering the intricacies of the title, but this hook isn't exclusive to Ultra Street Fighter 2.
It needs to be said once more that Ultra Street Fighter 2: The Final Challengers isn't a bad game – it really isn't. But it's a game that's been making rounds since the early 90's, with a port that feels eerily familiar to a version that first arrived roughly nine years ago on Xbox 360 and PS3. Then there's the price point of $39.99 USD, which feels more like a gouging than anything nearly reasonable. Taking into consideration what little it adds when looking the final product, it's clear that the value just isn't there for consumers. Street Fighter aficionados may be able to stretch their dollar further than Dhalsim's limbs, but the average player won't be kept busy nearly long enough to justify the current price tag.
Ultra Street Fighter 2: The Final Challengers is now available exclusively for the Nintendo Switch. Game Rant was provided with a review copy of the game by Nintendo.